NASHVILLE – In a New York minute, everything changed for kicker Sam Ficken.
After spending the past two seasons with the Jets, Ficken was released by the team early in training camp. A day later, he was claimed by the Titans last month, and given another chance.
It's safe to say Ficken has made the most of it – he's the kicker in Tennessee heading into the season opener against the Cardinals on Sunday.
"That's the NFL for you," Ficken said on Wednesday. "I certainly didn't envision getting cut that early in camp – I was kind of surprised by it. But obviously with the tremendous opportunity here, I felt like I did a good of getting acclimated and making most of the opportunities I got."
Ficken, who played at Penn State, hit on 32-of-42 field goal attempts in his time with the Jets. He was 13-of-15 for the Jets in 2020, including a perfect 12 of 12 from inside 50 yards, after going 19-of-27 in 2019.
With the Titans in August, Ficken was 4-of-4 on FGs in three preseason games, including a 58-yarder, and 9-of-9 on PATs in those contests. He was 60-of-67 in FGs in practices, including 16-of-18 in joint practices with the Buccaneers.
Along the way, Ficken survived some razzing from left tackle Taylor Lewan in practices, and he also earned a nickname – "Nashville Hot Ficken."
"Everyone here has been extremely welcoming," Ficken said. "Obviously it is good to kind of get a little back and forth with Taylor, I think that adds to the pressure of the moment. Guys are certainly going to do that in the games, so mind over matter there."
As for being dubbed "Nashville Hot Ficken", something a Titans fan first lobbed out on Twitter last month, Ficken seemed to get a kick out of hearing that, even if the origin of the nickname has been a source of at least some confusion. Allen Matthews of Jackson, Tennessee, was initially credited by other fans for coming up with the moniker, but Matthews is giving the props to fellow Titans fan John Causley of Murfreesboro for coming up with the original nickname recipe two days before him.
"Someone just brought it up in the locker room," Ficken said with a smile. "Day after day for me, so I'm not getting in front of that one."
Ficken knows his job is to keep making kicks under pressure.
Ficken has 28 games of NFL experience with the Rams (2017-18) and the Jets (2019-20). Over his NFL career, he has connected on 35 of 48 field goal attempts with a career long of 54 yards and is 49 of 56 on extra points.
"It's not my first rodeo, so I think after a few years of being in the league it has gotten a lot easier," he said. "It is about prioritizing the opportunities that you get, and then making the most of it."